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• Prevention is worth its weight

October 20, 2008

 

The cost of health care may threaten our personal and financial well-being, but we can stave off further damage by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Chronic conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes largely represent the accumulation of small, daily decisions that diminish our health: taking the elevator rather than walking, overindulging in sweets, smoking. Simple changes in daily habits can alter the course of our lives, and our collective future.

Eighty percent of older Americans face the pain, disability, loss of independence and early death associated with chronic disease. And the cost of chronic disease, representing two-thirds of medical expenditures, is unsustainable.

In 2000, smoking, poor diet and physical inactivity were responsible for 35 percent of deaths nationally. Fortunately, we can change this. That’s why the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging emphasizes personal responsibility and prevention, and sponsored more than two dozen wellness events in recent years.

Yet the decision is ultimately personal. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, a smoke-free lifestyle and preventive health screenings can lower our risk for chronic diseases and will reward us with extended years of independent living, reduced disability and improved quality of life — not to mention a healthier pocket-book.

As they say at Nike, just do it.

LT. GOV. ANDRE BAUER

Columbia

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